DEDICATION by pengxiuhui


                        # 30

                                          # 20

Steps and Stops in the Life of One of God’s Children

                                               # 10

              Charles G. Thornton
             -    MILEPOSTS         -                 i


 This volume is dedicated to my good wife, Janice,
      and our six children, whose support and
commitment have greatly encouraged me to seek to
continue walking faithfully with our precious Lord.

         “Thank you, my dear family.”
ii                   -    MILEPOSTS         -


            Let me explain why I‟m writing this book.
            First, Rebekah told me to do it.
            Next, I wanted to.
            Finally, and most importantly, I think this is one
    way I can do what I read in Psalm 78. There it says:
                “…he commanded our fathers, that they
        should make them known to their children: That the
        generation to come might know them, even the
        children which should be born; who should arise and
        declare them to their children: That they might set
        their hope in God, and not forget the works of God,
        but keep his commandments: And might not be as
        their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a
        generation that set not their heart aright, and whose
        spirit was not stedfast with God.”
        This book exists for the simple purpose of reminding you,
my family of the great God Whom we have the privilege of
serving. I desire that you, and anyone else who may look „over
your shoulders‟, will be encouraged to “set (your) hope in God,
and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.”
        The song writer put it this way:
                 “O, for a thousand tongues to sing
                    My great Redeemer‟s praise,
                  The glories of my God and King,
                    The wonders of His grace.”
        I hope my pen can do what I fear my tongue has
limitations in doing…hold before you the delight of following
and serving God to the best of your ability.
                            With my love,
                      -    MILEPOSTS          -                   iii


         The Milepost® is a travel magazine devoted to assisting
people as they journey from “Outside” (one of the designations
Alaskan people have given the 48 contiguous states of the USA)
to Alaska. In this travel aid we find a great variety of
information: maps, distances, places of lodging, restaurant
locations, points of interest for sight-seeing, as well as general
information concerning the (Canadian) Territory or State through
which one is traveling.
         Mileposts is similar. It serves as a reminder of the starts,
stops, detours, areas explored, and vistas seen during the life of
this traveler…one who is seeking to “follow” Jesus Christ.
         There is one significant way in which Mileposts differs
from The Milepost®. The means of measurement in The
Milepost® is either miles or kilometers and, at any point, one
knows how far he has come AND how far he still has to go to
reach his destination. Mileposts, on the other hand, while giving
some indication of how far its subject has come, is incapable of
indicating how far (or how long) the future journey is yet to be.
         Is it complete? “Not yet.” (An Old Timer in Vermont,
when asked if he had “lived here all his life”, is reported to have
made that same reply.)
         Is it exhaustive? No…how does one compress a lifetime
into “X” number of printed pages? Is it exhausting? Only the one
who reads will be able to answer that question.
         Does it accomplish its intended purpose? That answer
also is to be determined by the reader. You alone can determine
whether this “poor lisping, stammering tongue (pen?)” has
expressed well the glory due to the Savior Who said (to this
writer): “Follow me…”
         I invite you to walk with me as I reflect on the various
Mileposts that mark my journey as a follower of Jesus, the Christ
of God.
                                        Charles G Thornton
iv                   -    MILEPOSTS        -


      Dedication                                       i
      Preface                                         ii
      Introduction                                   iii
      Table of Contents                           iv-vii
     Milepost #1 – Kaibara, Japan                     1
      Chapter 1 – Born into a “Military” Family       2
      Chapter 2 –From Japan to America                4
     Milepost #2 – Missouri - Childhood               6
      Chapter 3 – The Geography of a Life             7
      Chapter 4 – Elementary –Grades 1-4              9
      Chapter 5 – Elementary – Grades 5-8            12
      Chapter 6 – “Meanwhile, Back at the (Farm)” 16
      Chapter 7 – A New Life for Charlie             20
     Milepost #3 – Missouri - Youth                  22
      Chapter 8 – Secondary School                   23
      Chapter 9 – Some High School Experiences       28
      Chapter 10 – Camp Tadmor                       32
     Milepost #4 – Dayton, Tennessee                 35
      Chapter 11 – College Days                      36
      Chapter 12 – Christian Service                 41
     Milepost #5 – El Paso, Texas                    44
      Chapter 13 – A Brief Delay                     45
      Chapter 14 – Crunch Time in the Rose Bowl      50
               -    MILEPOSTS         -         v

 Chapter 15 – The Army                     54
 Chapter 16 – Not Good to Be Alone         58
Milepost #6 – Winona Lake, Indiana         62
 Chapter 17 – Interlude                    63
 Chapter 18 – Seminary Years               66
 Milepost #7 – Galion, Ohio                73
 Chapter 19 – Direction                    74
 Chapter 20 – Galion GBC                   77
Milepost #8 - Buena Vista, Virginia        82
 Chapter 21 – Redirection #1               83
 Chapter 22 – Buena Vista FBC              86
Milepost #9 – Lanham, Maryland             92
 Chapter 23 – Redirection #2               93
 Chapter 24 – Washington, D.C. FBC         95
Milepost #10 – Lansing, Michigan          105
 Chapter 25 – Redirection #3              106
 Chapter 26 – Lansing GBC                 108
Milepost #11 – Sunnyside, Washington      112
 Chapter 27 – Redirection #4              113
 Chapter 28 – Sunnyside GBC               116
 Chapter 29 – “It Is Appointed…”          118
Milepost #12 - Dallas Center, Iowa        121
 Chapter 30 – Redirection #5              122
 Chapter 31 - Dallas Center GBC           124
Milepost #13 – Millersburg, Ohio          129
vi                  -    MILEPOSTS          -

      Chapter 32 – Redirection #6                130
      Chapter 33 – Millersburg GBC               132
      Chapter 34 – Tales for the Tundra          137
     Milepost #14 – Soldotna, Alaska             144
      Chapter 35 – Redirection #7                145
      Chapter 36 – Peninsula GBC                 147
     Milepost #15 - Special Opportunities        151
      Chapter 37 – Grace Schools                 152
      Chapter 38 – Iowa Sunday School Association 157
      Chapter 39 – Marriage Savers               159
      Chapter 40 – Arctic Barnabas Ministries    161
      Chapter 41 – D-Min Studies                 162
     Milepost #16 – Special Joys                 164
      Chapter 42 – Writing                       165
      Chapter 43 – Music                         167
      Chapter 44 – Laughter                      169
      Chapter 45 – Perspective on Ministry       171
      Chapter 46 – Observations on Ministry      174
     Milepost #17 – Future Steps                 176
      Chapter 47 – Redirection #8                177
      Chapter 48 – The Unwritten Future          178
     ADDENDA                                     180
      ADD #1 – Generations of Charles            180
      ADD #2 – Generations of Janice             181
      ADD #3 – Intrepid Bear Hunters Three       182
             -   MILEPOSTS        -              vii

 ADD #4 – The Christian Executive Ramrod   185
 ADD #5 – Caleb‟s Faith                    189
 ADD #6 – Me „n God „n Porch Settin‟       190
 ADD #7 – Dear Rebekah                     191
 ADD #8 – The Angels Bow                   192
End Notes                                  193
8   -    MILEPOSTS       -

        MILEPOST #1

        Kaibara, Japan
                       -    MILEPOSTS          -                    9

                             Chapter 1

                 Born into a “Military” Family

                I may never march in the infantry,
              Ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery.
                  I may never fly o‟er the enemy,
                    But I‟m in the Lord‟s army.

        The number of the children of military parents who
choose a military career is not known. Nor do we have statistics
of the number of sons of preachers who become preachers. In my
family, the emphasis was placed, not on becoming a pastor or
missionary “because the Thorntons have always done it”, but
rather to discover what would please God and do it.
        That did not alter the fact that there are preachers listed in
six of the last eight Thornton generations. In my own generation,
my cousin, Paul Eckel and I share this privilege to be called of
God to serve as pastors. My brother, Sam (named after my father,
Samuel Watson) is a farmer. In our upbringing, neither
occupation was considered less „spiritual‟ or significant than the
other. “Doing the will of God from the heart”i is the most
important thing any of us can do.
        While the details of military service by family members
are not essential to my story, they are still of interest to me:
        My great grandfather (S.W. Thornton, D.D.) served in the
army during the Civil War. This was prior to his pastoral
        My great uncle Earl was a major during the Spanish-
American War.
        As a boy, I used Uncle Earl‟s old McClellan saddle for
riding. I was also proud owner of a pair of his riding boots.
        My Uncle David served in the US Navy during WWII.
        During the Korean War, my brother, Sam, served on
active duty for six months, then inactive duty for three years.
10                    -    MILEPOSTS          -

John was stationed on Okinawa for one of his two years in the
Army. My sister, Cathy, was an air traffic controller during her
time of service in the Navy. My own involvement has been
related elsewhere.
         My brother John‟s sons, Matt and Aaron served: Matt
from 1992-94 in the army infantry, while Aaron was a marine
who traveled to Guam, Russia, Japan, Okinawa, and several other
places. My sister Martha‟s son, Curt, did 3 years in regular army,
a portion of it in Honduras.
         One of our granddaughters, Rachel, served in the Air
Force in Afghanistan during the early 2000s.
         What does this mean? Perhaps very little. But I prefer to
believe that we all endeavored to contribute our portion of time
and energy to help preserve the safety and ideals of the United
States of America in which we live.
         “Why are you talking about military families when the
Thorntons pretty clearly aren‟t?” I‟m glad you asked. I‟ve been
trying to get to the real point – some families seem to have
almost a familial “bent” toward serving the Lord. I don‟t mean
that we serve the Lord “because all Thorntons do”. I mean, the
idea of serving (if God so directs) seems easier because we have
seen other family members doing so.
         When it is endorsed by God‟s call, such service results in
a life of great joy. If, however, vocational Christian service is not
God‟s design for one, His service is still sweet and wonderful.
                      -   MILEPOSTS          -                  11

                            Chapter 2

                      From Japan to America
        I was born „at a very early age‟ (as some wit stated it) in
Kaibara, Japan. Why Japan? Another wit gave as good an answer
as I can think of: "I wanted to be near my mother." Actually my
parents had moved to Japan (1930) for missionary service. That
was not altogether a novel move, since my father had lived a
considerable portion of his early life in Japan. In fact, prior to
beginning missionary service in Japan in 1930, he had lived
outside the USA some 15 years (both in India and Japan).
        Furthermore, my father was simply living out the result of
a battle he had with God while in Blackburn High School and
Junior College. That battle was over the issue of control (was
Watson or God in control of his life?)…God won!
        My mother told me that, as a baby, I had some difficulties
with my feet. It became necessary to bind them in order to help
them grow properly. The possibility of my having trouble
walking was fearful. “Then,” she said, “God graciously gave me
a verse of Scripture that served to bring me hope. It was
Habakkuk 3:19: „He will make my feet like hinds‟ feet, and he
will make me to walk upon mine high places.‟” I learned about
this some time after I began participating in basketball, high jump
and the mile run in high school. (Little did she realize the
example she set for me by her simple acceptance of God‟s Word
as a basis for faith and practice.)
        My recollections of life in Japan are only those which
were told me. As a young boy, I understand, I once „ran away‟
from home on a tricycle we had. I assume this wayward boy
made it to approximately the end of the street, and only until
supper time. I have been told that, when we returned to the
United States, all of us children spoke primarily Japanese,
although we understood English.
        At the end of 1936, we moved “back home”. On board
ship all of us children contracted measles. Upon arrival in San
Francisco, we were quarantined until we were well enough to
12                    -    MILEPOSTS          -

travel on to St. Louis where, just after Christmas we completed
our journey. There the Frank Widbin family graciously invited us
to stay with them in their home. Despite the fact that we invaded
their “space”, the three Widbin sons, Frank, Jr., Bill and Bob,
took us into their hearts and treated us five Thornton children
with loving care. For a short time we were their “little siblings”.
         In September, 1953, I had the privilege of seeing Bill and
Mary Widbin as they took ship from Hoboken, New Jersey. They
were bound for Holland on the first leg of their journey to Dutch
New Guinea as missionaries. At Dad‟s memorial service in 1994,
it was Bob Widbin who shared his memories of my father.
         During 1937 we made yet another move. This one was to
a farm some 100 miles southwest of St. Louis. My Grandfather
had dreamed of a “Self Help Bible School”, patterned after the
one in which he taught while living in Japan. Others in the Hope
Church (where Grandpa served as pastor) caught the vision and
soon the 430 acre farm became the facility for the school. Dad
was to be its director. He would also oversee the work on the
farm. Isn‟t it interesting how God works? The man, who had
wrestled with God over preaching versus farming, was now both
preaching and farming. This was to become our home for the
next eight years.
         The Tadmor Self Help Bible School had a short-lived
history – only two years, due to the advent of World War II. But,
during that brief time the lives of three of its students were
impacted for God and His work in a significant way.
         During that time places like Asher Hollow, Benton Creek,
Cook Station, Yeary, Daniels, and Wesco (locations of one room
country schoolhouses) were spoken of at our dinner table. Three
of them we children attended. All of them were locations in my
father‟s ministry of the Gospel.
         But Tadmor (the name came from one of Solomon‟s store
cities “in the wilderness”ii) was a farm, a school location, a place
for the people of Hope Church to come for an annual Labor Day
Bible Conference, and home to the growing Thornton family.
                        -   MILEPOSTS   -   13

     Ephesians 6:6
     2 Chronicles 8:4

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